Army Veteran, Paralysis, Scam

Army Veteran Accused Of Faking Paralysis To Obtain More Than $750K In Benefits

William Rich is on trial facing five counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of government property.

A man has been accused of falsely claiming that he has paraplegia and collecting more than $767,000 in Veterans Affairs disability benefits. Now, he is on trial, facing five counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of government property for faking paralysis.

According to The Military Times, William Rich was indicted in 2021 over allegations that he “engaged in a scheme to defraud where he feigned paralysis while attending VA medical appointments and made false statements to the VA that he was confined to a wheelchair to receive disability compensation and other benefits.

The Baltimore Banner reported that the 43-year-old was injured while sitting at his desk when a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside a dining facility in Baqubah, Iraq. The incident occurred on Aug. 23, 2005, when a concrete wall fell on top of him. Two Americans died in the attack, and most likely, Rich’s fragmentation vest saved him.

Military Times reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs stated he was 100% disabled due to the “loss of use of both lower extremities.” Yet, after about six weeks, he began to make substantial progress toward recovery and was pronounced no longer paralyzed by the Department of Justice in 2021.

In 2018, the VA Office of Inspector General conducted an audit and discovered that Rich’s condition was inconsistent with what had previously been reported. He was placed under surveillance over the next two years, and officials observed Rich walking, going up and down stairs, entering and exiting vehicles, lifting, bending, and carrying items. He allegedly did so without visible limitation or assistance from a wheelchair.

In the prosecutor’s opening statement on June 18, Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen McGuinn said, “People who play roles will eventually forget their lines.”

“What is an act? Claiming to be wheelchair-bound.”

McGuinn promised to show evidence revealing a video of Rich allegedly lifting weights and other surveillance footage showing him using his lower extremities, proving he wasn’t 100% disabled.

Rich’s attorney, Gerald Ruter responded, “This man is a patriot. This man is a hero. And I’ll also tell you what he’s not. He’s not an actor. And he’s not guilty.”

RELATED CONTENT: Black Veteran Sues The VA Over Agency’s Denial Of PTSD Benefits To Black Soldiers